By Kyle Shohara
One coast meets another tonight as the Ducks (5-7-4, 14 points) conclude their three-game homestand against the New York Islanders (8-6-3, 19 points) at Honda Center. Two consecutive overtime losses haven’t put a damper on the Ducks, who come into this contest riding a season-long six-game point streak (4-0-2, 10 points), with two of those victories coming against Eastern Conference foes (Florida, Columbus).
“There is still a ways to go for improvement, but we feel we’re on the right track,” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. “We’re doing some things a lot better and we’re gaining our identity back. We know it’s going to be a tough test, but we want to continue to push forward before we go on the road trip.”
Adds right wing Jakob Silfverberg, “We just have to believe in what we do. Even though we lost the last two in OT, we’ve been playing good. We just have to keep that belief and stay with the structure. It’s when you start cheating that you start getting into trouble.”
They’ll face an Islanders squad on the second of back to backs, having lost 2-1 last night to the LA Kings at Staples Center. Brock Nelson tallied the lone goal for New York, which was has lost three of its past four games. With Jaroslav Halak playing last night, the Ducks could see Thomas Greiss in net tonight. Greiss was drafted by San Jose in the third round (94th overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft and played four seasons in the Bay Area before moving on to the Arizona Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, and now, the Islanders. The 29-year-old is 4-1-2 in seven games this season.
As for the Ducks, it’ll be Anton Khudobin’s crease tonight. Khudobin became the second Ducks netminder all-time to post a 1-0 shutout in San Jose after stopping all 31 shots on November 7. Khudobin enters the game with a 2-2-0 record, 2.80 goals-against average and .913 save percentage.
“The one thing coaches rely on is the steadiness of the goaltender and knowing what you’re getting,” said Boudreau. “If he plays anything like he did in San Jose, we’ll be very happy.”
Boudreau says Khudobin’s quickness is a sign he’s on top of his game. “He’s tracking the puck everywhere and he’s square to the puck,” said Boudreau, of his 5-foot-11 goaltender. “He plays bigger than he looks.”
Carl Hagelin knows the Islanders well from his time with another New York team – the Rangers. Hagelin, of course, spent his entire career with the Blueshirts before coming West in the offseason. The 27-year-old has four goals and eight points in 18 regular season games vs. the Islanders.
“I’ve played so many games against them over the past four seasons,” Hagelin said. “I was playing them four or five times every year. There have been some legendary games. I’m excited to play them again.”